Professor Spring 2019: Dan Szafir


The field of human-robot interaction (HRI) is rapidly emerging as a significant interdisciplinary research area that focuses on developing robotic technologies and interfaces that enable robots to effectively work with and alongside people. This course will introduce students to HRI theory, principles, methodologies, and applications by bringing together knowledge from robotics, artificial intelligence, human factors, human-computer interaction, design, cognitive psychology, education and other domains. Coursework will include readings and discussions focused on the state-of-the-art in HRI research, focused team exercises and problem-solving sessions involving human-robot interaction challenges, and a team project resulting in the implementation and evaluation of a human-robot interaction system for specific applications.

Course Objectives

This course introduces students to the field of Human-Robot Interaction. Topics will include:
• The historical development of HRI
• HRI Tools and Methods
• Experimental design relating to HRI
• Robotic algorithms and sensors
• Social robotics
• Interface design

By the end of the course, students will have gained knowledge and skills to:
• Understand the fundamental concepts relating to HRI such as design, implementation, and evaluation
• Read deeply, understand, and critique academic research papers relating to HRI
• Create algorithms guiding robot behaviors and design robot interfaces with the context of HRI
• Apply findings from relevant psychology and social sciences to the design of interactive robots
• Work successfully with a group of peers from a variety of disciplines on a research project
• Conduct human-subjects research within the scope of HRI
• Communicate and present individual and group project work


This course will not have a textbook. All readings will be posted online.

Course Pre-Requisites

This is a graduate course intended for those considering serious research in human-robot interaction. The course project may involve significant programming and development, thus students will be expected to have a solid mastery of computer science concepts and programming languages as a prerequisite for this course. All students will be learning new skill sets and are expected to be strongly motivated to work with novel robotic platforms.

Course Format

The course will be comprised of lectures, readings, discussions, exercises, assignments, presentations, and projects. All readings will be posted online and discussion will occur the following class. Several readings will be presented by students to encourage fundamental knowledge acquisition. We will occasionally have a short (10 min) quiz before each lecture/set of presentations to test the understanding of the readings. Certain topics may additionally include a minor programming assignment or problem set. Students will either carry out a final research project in teams or conduct an in-depth literature survey individually.


10% - Consistent attendance and active participation
25% - Quizzes, reading responses, programming exercises, and problem sets
30% - Student presentations and methods assignments
35% - Final project